BUMBLEBEE

Bumblebee is set to take the Trans­form­ers fran­chise back to its ’80s roots

Empire (UK) - - CONTENTS - NICK DE SEMLYEN

We’re not sure if this Trans­form­ers pre­quel will have a post-cred­its sting. If it does, just put lots of bak­ing soda on it.

HONEY IS MONEY. That’s the phi­los­o­phy Paramount is bank­ing on, any­way, with its first Trans­form­ers spin-off movie, which fol­lows not Op­ti­mus Prime, nor Iron­hide, but their Au­to­bot com­padre, Bumblebee. The yel­low-and-black ro­bot, pre­vi­ously seen in the live-ac­tion se­ries as a 1977 Chevro­let Ca­maro but re­tooled for his ’80s-set solo mis­sion as a 1967 Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle, isn’t the most heroic Trans­former. He’s very pos­si­bly the clum­si­est. And he is only ca­pa­ble of speak­ing through ra­dio clips. But the film­mak­ers are con­vinced he will win our hearts.

“What’s re­ally fun about Bee is his child­like cu­rios­ity,” says pro­ducer Lorenzo di Bon­aven­tura. “A gi­ant chunk of our movie is about his re­la­tion­ship with Char­lie (Hailee Ste­in­feld), and as it goes on he makes a to­tal mess of her house. He’s in­trigued by her dog. And it’s funny to watch her turn him onto ’80s cul­ture.” One scene sees Bumblebee lis­ten to — and spit out — a Rick Ast­ley cas­sette tape, while in an­other he man­ages to break a sofa, by sit­ting on it. “Trans­form­ers and fur­ni­ture,” notes di Bon­aven­tura, “don’t nec­es­sar­ily mix.”

Di­rected by Laika vet­eran Travis Knight, it is, the pro­ducer prom­ises, a very dif­fer­ent kind of Trans­form­ers movie — less a crunch­ing war movie than a sweet­na­tured, soul­ful rite-of-pas­sage. Think Un­cle Buck, per­haps, but with a metal John Candy. Hence the change of de­sign: “The idea of get­ting into the emo­tional vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties of Bee seemed to be more re­flec­tive, frankly, with a VW bug than a Ca­maro. And I think there’s a real nos­tal­gia around that ve­hi­cle any­way. There was some fear about how fans were go­ing to re­ceive it, but the re­ac­tion to the trailer made us feel we’re mak­ing the right choice.”

Laughs, ac­tion, nos­tal­gia and Rick Ast­ley? We’re about ready to bug out.

BUMBLEBEE IS IN CINE­MAS FROM 26 DE­CEM­BER

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